(CNN) - After a two-day bus tour through New York and Pennsylvania to sell his plan on controlling college costs to students and parents, President Barack Obama used his weekly address Saturday to continue the push for his three-pronged plan to reduce the financial burden on students.
Student loan debt has skyrocketed in recent years, as have delinquencies, making it a pressing issue for millions of Americans. In 2011, students owed an average of nearly $27,000 in loans, making it second only to mortgages in consumer debt.
Lawmakers fiercely debated student loans before Congress adjourned for its August recess, and eventually struck a deal that maintains low interest rates on loans, though in the future those rates could rise.
In a CNN interview Friday, Obama called that compromise a "stop-gap measure" that still left unsolved the problem of the even-increasing price tag of a college degree.
Read below for Obama's full weekly address:
Hi, everybody. Over the past month, I've been visiting towns across America, talking about what our country needs to do to secure a better bargain for the middle class.
This week, I met with high school and college students in New York and Pennsylvania to discuss the surest path to the middle class – some form of higher education.
But at a moment when a higher education has never been more important, it's also never been more expensive. That's why, over the past four years, we've helped make college more affordable for millions of students and families with grants and loans that go farther from before.
But students and families and taxpayers cannot just keep subsidizing college costs that keep going up and up. Not when the average student now graduates more than $26,000 in debt.
We cannot price the middle class out of a college education. That's why I proposed major new reforms to make college more affordable and make it easier for folks to pay for their education.
First, we're going to start rating colleges based on opportunity – are they helping students from all kinds of backgrounds succeed, and on outcomes – their value to students and parents. In time, we'll use those ratings to make sure that the colleges that keep their tuition down are the ones that will see their taxpayer funding go up.
Second, we're going to jumpstart competition between colleges over innovations that help more students graduate in less time, at less cost, while maintaining quality. A number of schools are already testing new approaches, like putting more courses online or basing course credit on competence, not just hours spent in the classroom.
And third, we're going to help more students responsibly manage their debt, by making more of them eligible for a loan repayment program called Pay-As-You-Earn, which caps your loan payments at 10 percent of what you make. And we'll reach out directly to students to make sure they know that this program exists.
These reforms won't be popular with everybody. But the path we're on now is unsustainable for our students and our economy.
Higher education shouldn't be a luxury, or a roll of the dice; it's an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.
Thanks, and have a great weekend.